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Here are some of the most popular and beautiful sandy beaches of Mauritius. There are others such as Albion and Coin de Mire which are less busy. Try to avoid visiting beaches during the weekends as they get very crowded – Mauritians go there to relax after a hard week’s work!
1. Spend a few days at the seaside resort of Grand-Bay in the north to sample some of the best beaches: Mont Choisy, La Cuvette and Pereybere.
2. Flic en Flac beach is on the dry west coast.
3. Belle Mare and Palmar beaches on the windy east coast.
4.Blue Bay in the south-east of Mauritius. It’s not far from the airport.
There is a plethora of watersport activities to choose from, although many such as the jetski and the water ski are only available from luxury coastal hotels and resorts.
6. Hire a pedalo at Pereybere public beach.
7. Tamarin on the west coast and the south coasts are popular surfing spots.
8. Feeling lazy? Take a catamaran cruise for the day with barbecue. Set sail from Grand-Bay. You’ll find many there to choose from.
9. Explore the lagoon floor whilst staying dry by hopping on board the semi-submersible vessel the Nessee. You’ll find it to the left of Grand-Bay Public beach.
10. Walk among fish. That’s the underwater sea walk using scuba equipment. No need to know how to swim. Available from Grand-Bay.
12. Swim with dolphins at Tamarin. Although this may not be a watersport, it’s still a great experience.
13. You’ll be able to combine snorkeling and a catamaran ride when going dolphin spotting at Tamarin.
14. For serious fishermen only – deep sea fishing, also known as big game fishing. Head to Tamarin or Black River to find your charter boat or your hotel may organise one for you. The Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Tuna, Spearfish and Dorado are some of the big fish you’ll be able to hook out of the depths of the ocean.
15. The Blue Penny Museum at the Caudan waterfront, Port-Louis. Mauritius is famous for many extinct species – not only the dodo but also the famous Blue Penny and Red Penny stamps which you will see displayed in this museum.
16. Since you are already at the Caudan knee-deep into stamps, head further north to Port-Louis Waterfront to visit the Post Office, an 1868 building and the Postal Museum.
17. Still at the Port-Louis Waterfront is the Windmill Museum, next to souvenir shops. You will see photographs of the old Port-Louis while your kids can play in the children’s area in front.
18. Top off this cultural tour with a visit to the Aapravasi Ghat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Aapravasi Ghat, meaning immigration depot in Hindi, was the landing place for indentured labourers in Mauritius, akin to what Ellis Island represents in US immigration history. Today it retraces the history of immigration in Mauritius.
19. Visit the National History Museum to see how the dodo looked like in a stuffed replica.
20. The sugar museum l’Aventure du Sucre at Pamplemousses. If you must visit only one museum, this is it – the whole history of Mauritius is accurately depicted there because sugar is indelibly linked to the development of the island.
21. After sugar, it’s tea. Visit the Bois Chéri Tea Museum in the depths of the island on the high plateau. If you have been spending all your time on the coast so far, you will be taken to an entirely different world where greenery has taken over, humidity rules and fog is ever present. This is where the tea plant thrives, on slopes to drain away water. Learn about the history of tea in Mauritius, the visits of the Cutty Sark, now docked in Greenwich, London and see how tea is produced in a real, working factory. End your visit in the shop where you can also sit and sip tea of course, accompanied by locally-produced biscuits.
22. After tea and sugar, it’s now the turn of biscuits. Visit the Rault Biscuit factory deep in the countryside on the outskirt of Mahebourg, amid plantations of tapioca plants known as manioc locally. The factory is not a museum but as the equipment has not changed from 100 years ago, you will be taken back in time. The site is not easy to find though. As usual, end your visit with tea and the famous biscuits.
Places to visit
It’s not just the beach or watersports that will entertain you in Mauritius. Take the time to explore further inland.
23. Walk among lions at Casela Nature Park. Take the safari tour and view the multitude of birds.
24. The Vanilla Crocodile Park in the south has the largest number of tortoises reared in the world, 2000 crocodiles and other animal and insect species. You can even eat the evil crocodiles afterwards or carry them away as handbags – there’s a shop and a restaurant!
25. Watch and bet on horse racing at the Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port-louis, nestled at the foot of the mountains. Saturdays only but it gets pretty packed. The Champ de Mars is the oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere. It served as the site for rallies and manifestations leading to independence in 1968, somewhat similar to the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds and the 1988 Singing Revolution.
26. Enjoy the vast splendid gardens of SSR Botanical Gardens in Pamplemousses.
27. Every country has a Chinatown and Mauritius is no exception. Find it in Port-Louis, slightly north of the city centre.
28. Sharks, sea turtles and colourful tropical fish to be found at the Mauritius Aquarium in Pointe-aux-Piments.
29. Every holiday should include a pampering session. Most luxury resorts will have a spa and beauty treatments otherwise head to Grandbay Gym Hydro Spa for some hydrotherapy.
30. La Citadelle is an old building in ruins formerly used as a lookout post for the port. There is not much to see there but beyond as it has a great view of the capital. Concerts are occasionally held there.
31. Marie Reine de la Paix is a site for religious catholic gatherings. It has been built as a series of manicured terraces cut into the foot of a mountain. Its most famous gathering was for a mass held by the pope John Paul II in 1989. It usually serves as the site to hold outdoor mass when there is no church big enough but for you, it will provide another great view of the harbour and a beautiful green space.
32. Gamble at the Caudan casino. You can’t miss it as its entrance looks like a ship.
33. Take a stroll along the architecturally beautiful Caudan Waterfront and Port-Louis Waterfront after you have lost all your money at the casino and cannot afford anything else. Night is a good time as the heat and brouhaha of the day are replaced by beauty and romanticism with the gentle sound of waves and soft lighting in the background.
34. Facing Port-Louis Waterfront is the Place d’Armes, a boulevard fringed by majestic Royal Palm trees who see off cyclones year in, year out. You will be greeted by a statue of Mahé de Labourdonnais at the beginning, credited for much of the development of Port-Louis, and the Parliament building at the other end. You’ll see a statue of Queen Victoria at that end, proof the French and British can suffer each other.
35. If there are any shows available, do not miss visiting the oldest theatre of the Indian Ocean, the Municipal theatre, on Jules Koenig Street, built in 1822 with up to 600 seats on 3 levels and a magnificent dome ceiling and chandeliers.
It’s time to fill that belly of yours. Here’s a quick guide on what food to look for. From eating on the street to fine dining and everthing in between, you will find more varied choices than in London or Paris combined.
36. You don’t believe it? Vineet Bhatia is a Michelin-starred chef with his London Chelsea restaurant and now runs the Rasoi by Bhatia restaurant at the St Géran in a stunning light and water décor.
37. You can also grab a dholl-puri on a street corner and eat right there. Sellers are usually found in or near markets: Quatre-Bornes Market, Rose-hill Market and bus terminal, Grand-Bay beach, Port-Louis Market…
38. You will also find more than dholl-puris in these market places. Try fried noodles, boiled noodles, halim (spicy soup), gateaux piments (chilli cakes with no chillies!), samoussas, other fried snacks and plenty of sweet Indian cakes. Port-Louis Market in particulr has a dedicated food section.
39. There are plenty of food outlets and sellers near and beyond the market in Port-louis, especially in Chinatown and the Company Gardens catering for busy office workers.
40. Le Fangourin Restaurant is set in a pleasant outdoor surrounding at l’Aventure du Sucre Museum.
41. The Langouste Grisée on the outskirts of Grand-Bay on the main road, specialising in sea food as its name suggests.
42. King Dragon Restaurant on the Royal Road of Quatre-Bornes, famous with the locals for its Chinese cuisine. Make sure you reserve a table before you go.
43. Varangue sur Morne in the heights of Chamarel in the south of the island, where you pay for the view of the south coast as much as for the food.
44. The Restaurant La Table du Chateau at the Chateau de Labourdonnais, a stately home converted into a museum in Mapou, just after l’Aventure du Sucre at Pamplemousses.
45. Your own hotel’s or resort’s restaurants. There are often several to choose from. Rasoi by Bhatia at St Géran was already mentioned.
A visit to Mauritius is all about making the most of the weather and nature. Here’s what you can do.
47. Deer and boar hunting. Deer hunting season is from June to September while boar hunting is all year round. You can even enhance your hunting experience by staying in a hunting lodge. See www.lechasseurmauricien.com
48. Horse riding at Domaines les Pailles at Port-Louis, Black River, Mont Choisy Leisure Park or Mauritius Horse Trails at Union Ducray Sugar Estate in the south.
49. Cycle around the coast or inland on off-road tracks. It’s as easy as hiring a bike or joining a group for an organised ride such as by Yemaya Adventures.
50. Sea kayaking to explore mangroves and other remote places, see Yemaya Adventures again.
51. Quad biking, provided by Casela.
52. Zip-lining on the Rando Fun trail at Casela again. You’ll get Nepalese bridges, BBQ and a swim in the canyon too.
53. Play golf. You’ll find a golf course at your resort – the Telfair Golf & Spa Resort specialises in the golf experience, at Vacoas’ Gymkhana Club or the famous 18-hole golf course on its dedicated island Ile aux Cerfs, belonging to Le Touessrok.
54. Speaking of islands, take a day cruise with drinks and barbecue to one of the many small islands dotted around Mauritius – Gabriel Island and Flat island in the north, Ile aux Cerfs in the east and Ile aux Aigrettes in the south east for a guided tour on this protected nature reserve.
55. Multi-coloured earths? That’s at Chamarel where you can also relax in the coffee shop, visit the small shop and most importantly, view the highest waterfall on the island where water drops 83m.
56. Take a short boat cruise at Trou d’Eau Douce into the mouth of the river Grand River South East up to the waterfall.
57. Along the wild south coast, view Le souffleur, where powerful waves batter the rocky cliffs and make water spout out high in the air. Not far is Gris Gris, where legend has it that it is steeped in black magic. If you don’t believe that, you’ll still get to take some cliff walks.
59. Before you get to Grand Bassin, you will reach a junction called Le Pétrin. Turn left to go to Grand Bassin or turn right to Le Pétrin for guided or unguided walks in nature. There are boardwalks over marshlands.
61. Instead of turning left or right at Le Pétrin, continue straight and turn right later to head to Plaine Champagne where you’ll be able to pick guavas in winter when it’s the season or simply admire the stunning scenery.
62. Le Pétrin and Plaine Champagne are both in the Black River Gorges National Park, a lush mountainous area in the south of the island covered by the last vestiges of the ancient forests that once covered Mauritius. The highest mountain of the country, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire, at 848m, is found there.
63. The Domaine d’Anse Jonchée, a nature reserve in the south east makes for a hike rich in wildlife, including deer, wild boar and the Kestrel bird, a previously endangered species. End your visit at the restaurant high up in altitude.
64. Still in the same corner of the island is Vallee Ferney for more hiking opportunities. The area is a protected nature reserve. There is also a restaurant there where you can end your visit. If you cannot make the guided walk, a bus will take you to the restaurant.
61. Climb Mountain Lion, a mountain in the south east that bears an uncanny resemblance to a lion’s profile. Read more on http://www.lonelyplanet.com/mauritius/sights/mountain/lion-mountain
62. Climb the Corps de Garde mountain in Quatre-Bornes. You’ll need to start from the end that slopes up gently. There is a football pitch at the start of the trail. From the top of the mountain, you’ll see all the way up north to Coin de Mire and all the way south to Le Morne. You can’t see to the east because the high plateau inland blocks the view.
63. Climb Le Pouce, a mountain between Port-Louis and Moka. It’s perhaps the easiest to climb and in fact, there is no climbing, just walking. The mountain takes its name from looking like a thumb at the top when viewed Moka-side.
64. If you want something more challenging, climb the Pieter Both mountain next to Le Pouce. Beware, many people have lost their lives in the past trying to conquer it. Yet, serious mountaineers still come from all over the world to rise to the challenge. The mountain is easily recognisable by a large boulder atop.
65. Enough of mountains, let’s take to fresh water. Head to Tamarind Falls also known as 7 Cascades for obvious reasons. Start your hike at Henrietta. The waterfalls are simply stunning and make for fantastic pictures. You can even go for a swim in one of the secluded pools.
66. Visit Trou aux Cerfs , a now extinct volcanic crater in Curepipe. There is no hiking to do there unless you feel brave enough to walk down the steep sides into the centre where a small stinking lake awaits you.
67. The Caudan Waterfront and to a lesser extent, the Port-Louis Waterfront next to it are shopping magnets for tourists. There is a food court should you go hungry.
68. For something more local, visit Port-Louis Market across the road from Port-Louis Waterfront. There is a food section as mentioned already but also a souvenir section where you can get straw hats, wicker baskets, postcards etc.
69. If you are in Grand-Bay, visit its market for souvenirs. Take the road opposite the public beach that goes inland, walk for 5 minutes until you see it on your right.
70. For more upmarket shopping in Grand-Bay, Sunset Boulevard Shopping Complex awaits you on the main road but don’t make any comparison with Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard!
71. If you are staying in one of the many self-catered accommodation in Grand-Bay, Super U hypermarket will provide you with everyday necessities. There are also many other shops next to it and a huge car park.
72. If you are closer to Pereybere, you can visit Store 2000, a smaller supermarket on the main road. You’ll have to park on the side of the road though.
73. If you are in Mahebourg, don’t miss its busy market where you can get clothes.
74. Quatre-Bornes market is also popular with locals and tourists for its textile products. Fruits and veg market days are on Wednesday and Saturday while clothes and other items are on Thursdays and Sundays. It can get very busy and hot during market days.
75. Need some warm clothes for winter back home? Why not buy direct from the factory before they get exported and have VAT and excise duty slapped on them? There is a factory outlet at Floréal. Most of the sweaters produced in Mauritius are for exports so grab them there quickly.
76. Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius is a newly opened shopping destination where 130 shops awaiting you on the motorway between Port-Louis and Réduit.
77. Cascavelle Shopping Village is due to open in November 2011 and the shops will spread over 10 000 m2. Luxury shops, a colonial architecture and palm trees everywhere will all try to make the shopping experience a delight. It is located at the Flic en Flac junction in the west.
78. Head further down the road to Ruisseau Créole at Tamarin where you will find more high-end shops and a food court to refresh yourself if you are doing some watersport activities in the area.
79. There is a retail park at Trianon, dominated by the hypermarket Jumbo. Trianon is found at the major motorway roundabout at St Jean, Quatre-Bornes.
80. If you’ve liked Super U in Grand-Baie, there is another one at Belle-Rose in Rose-Hill, if you head east from Trianon.
81. Ebenway is a supermarket at Ebene, dubbed the Cyber City.
And a bonus one…
Getting married in Mauritius is now well-established and popular. If you’ve already tied the knot, fear not, you can always spend your honeymoon here.
Get this brief PDF guide on activities to do with contact details and addresses.
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